Archive for the ‘medications’ Tag

THE BIPOLAR PERSPECTIVE: BEARING THE BAGGIE OF BURDENS   Leave a comment

PISSED

The other day I finally went to the urologist.  I wanted to find out why at fifty years of age I started wetting the bed three nights a week.  As I walked into my sparse HMO Plan’s Doctor’s Office, I was prepared for news of a cancerous growth in my manhood, a renegade testicle or an untreated progressive tropical sexual disease I picked up eating Cuban Food in San Francisco’s Mission District.  But I got even worse news… There was nothing physically wrong with me.  The emotionless managed care physician even managed to look at my prostate, which apparently gave him the “OK” sign as well.  I wonder if it was a “thumbs up” or it just “winked”at him like a Cheshire cat?

RESTRICTED FLOW

 If my member is not sick, that means my night-time urinary incontinence must be in my head.  Or at least that was my first conclusion.  After all these years in therapy trying to keep my Bipolar mind afloat, now I had sprung a leak down below.  And, the treatment was as vague as the apparent cause.  So the vanilla urologist gave the tasteless advice not to drink fluids three hours before bedtime and see what happens.  He also emphasized no alcohol.  I knew this was implausible. My Bipolar medications make my mouth extremely dry.  I have to keep drinking liquids or suffer from such bad cotton mouth my lips stick together when I speak, causing annoying suction sounds.  Plus, the thought of restricting the flow of alcohol prematurely during an evening on the town is out of the question.  I prefer to drink with wanton abandon.  Why should I once again have to add another limitation to my already restricted existence?

HI-HO!

And then it hit me… This was just one more annoying annotation to my treatment schedule I will have to endure due to my Bipolar Disorder.  Just like the cadre of pills I have to take twice a day, now I must regulate my liquid intake.  Another hurdle to clear, inconvenience to negotiate and regiment to be saddled with in order to remain ready for prime time.  I feel like I am in an 1800’s horse-drawn wagon, piled high with pills and their side-effects, barely inching across the baron plains of the old west.  Hi-Ho Effexor, Lamictal and Topamax! Git!

MANAGED MEDICAL INCONTINENCE

However the thing the Managed Healthcare Professional said that bothered me most is he felt the assortment of Bipolar medications I take are probably the cause of my night-time incontinence.  I’m well aware they cause dry mouth, nausea, severe constipation and weight gain, among other things.   But because my nightly dose of the anti-depressant Seroquel makes me sleep quite deeply, I may not be waking up when I have the urge to urinate.  Consequently, I go in my sleep.  And, the doctor made it clear he did not think I should discontinue any of my medications.  So in essence, he was saying it was best to continue wetting my bed.  That way “at least I have my sanity.”  I call this Managed Medical Incontinence.

BEARING THE BAGGIE OF BURDEN

One time a friend who I met in a Bipolar Chat Room came to visit me in San Francisco. When I helped her get settled in her hotel room, she pulled out an identical Zip Lock Baggie to mine filled with pill bottles containing her personal mixture of Bipolar elixirs and poultices.  I suddenly felt a strong commonality with her. I realized all Bipolar sufferers carry their own “baggie” full of unique prescriptions and medication induced limitations like mine, everywhere they go in life. I take a handful of assorted pills twice a day. Some people take theirs three times daily. Some have to take meds with food. Mine make me too nauseous to eat right away.  A number of people can drink alcohol with them, but others get violently sick or depressed and can not combine the two.  Each baggie contains a mixed bag of burdens specially formulated for that individual.  But we all bear the same baggie of burden.

MY BAGGIE IS BIGGER THAN YOUR BAGGIE

Wetting the bed is a pretty heavy burden for a baggie to bear.  You can learn to keep your shaky hands in your pockets, and take your midday dose of medication out of sight from your co-workers.  But if you are ever going to have an intimate relationship, you can’t hide the fact that you are irrigating the bed.  Or, you can wear a diaper to sleep at night and call it an “undergarment,” so it sounds more like Mormon underwear. However I’ve come to the realization that everyone’s baggie seems equally big in their own eyes.  Different people with Bipolar Illness have different medication regiments.  It’s not as simple as just popping a Prozac.  And consequently, we all have our own set of annoying side-effects. Moreover, if they are your annoying side-effects, they are bigger than anyone else’s.  When I first started taking a once daily dose of the anti-depressant Elavil in the mid-1980’s to treat my Bipolar, I didn’t even need a baggie. Conversely,  I thought taking that single pill at night would be a massive intrusion on the rest of my life.  Now I carry a heavy duty Zip Lock Baggie, and yearn for the days of simplicity that came with only needing one pill bottle.  These were the days when my side-effects could be counted on one hand, not amplified to a roar and punctuated by constantly having to change my bed sheets.

THE CAT IS OUT OF THE BAGGIE

Now that the cat is out of the baggie, do I accept my predicament or search for a solution? If you suffer from Bipolar Disorder, you are forever trying to do one thing to compensate for another.   Am I willing to discontinue the Seroquel, become sleepless, depressed and dehydrated, so I can awaken dry just in time for another miserable day of suicidal ideations? Personally I am not ready to accept the Meaningless Managed Medical Memorandum on my nocturnal incontinence. So I will go forth seeking solutions that may or may not materialize.  Will I end up adding to my baggie or shrinking it?  I don’t know. But I do know I am not alone. Because Bipolar babies all have baggies.  No matter how big or small, they are enormous to the bearer.  And all of us in the Bipolar Community anticipate with bated breath a cure for their individual intolerable side-effects just around the corner.  Side-effects are the price we pay for being alive and sane.  However they can also drive you insane.

HALF IN THE BAGGIE

I thought the only way I could write about this was if I were “half in the baggie.”  It’s an embarrassing thing to do sober.  And nobody except the person “sleeping on my bottom bunk” really has to know.  But so rarely can you showcase a Bipolar medication related side-effect that makes the non-afflicted truly realize how gruesome this business can be.  There is no free ride.  Moreover, in most cases Bipolar medication only works to a point.  It does not completely wipe out deep depression, anxiety or mania.  Just enough to get by.  But the side-effects are full strength and show no mercy.

 

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THE BIPOLAR PERSPECTIVE: OH, IT’S JUST THAT AGE   4 comments

MY CHILD IS MY HEART

Watch any kind of television program where they interview random people. When asked about their children there is an eight out of ten chance they will say, “Oh, my child is my heart.” What does that actually mean? That your child is beating inside your chest creating blood flow to your body and you are taking your red slimy beating heart to the playground and named it Raymond? Or is saying “my child is my heart” the most loving thing you can possibly say about your child? It even trumps “My child means the world to me.” So, are all the times I have said “I love my daughter” insufficient and I have not properly annunciated my love for her? If you are Bipolar with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, this is enough to double your weekly therapy visits.

BETTER CHIMES

I had a really bad upbringing. My Mother was a severely depressed Bipolar sufferer with Beating Disorder. And my Father never saw a set of doorbell chimes he couldn’t ring by raising his voice at me. Plus, nothing I said was without criticism. But I promised myself I would be a better more supportive Father in every way my parents were not to me. And being Bipolar, I was very attuned to everything that came out of my mouth to build up my daughter, instead of knocking her down. Moreover, if I ever felt I did fail, I’d ruminate on it for days trying to make it right. My concern was whether I scarred her for life. Any parenting mistake would practically send me over the edge.

THE COOL FOOL

Many parents decide they want to be their child’s best friend, instead of their best parent. I constantly took my daughter shopping and allowed her to eat anything she liked. I hoped the “let’s keep it a secret from Mom” would further endear her to me. Once When she got suspended from school we spent the rest of the day at the mall. I bought countless cars and old convertibles because I thought she’d get a kick out of them. I don’t even look like a father, with long hair and hip glasses. I was trying to give her everything I would have wanted as a child. In theory it makes sense. Now I just feel foolish.

THE PARENT RAP

In a Bipolar world, your child would love and appreciate you. They’d see how hard you are trying to make them happy and not be a nagging constantly punishing parent. And when you talk to them you try and turn it into a rap session, instead speaking to them as a parent. But in my case, my daughter did not seem to even notice or have much interest in anything I did or do. At almost sixteen she has no idea what I do for a living and nothing matters about what is going on in my life. For me the parent rap is just a parent trap, because everything I did to make her love me just gave me a bad rap. With the negative influence from my ex-wife, she has disappeared completely from my life.

OH, IT”S JUST THAT AGE

Anyone who says “Oh, it’s just that age” should be shot on site. We all remember what it’s like in high school to want to hang out with out friends constantly and not tell our parents anything. Everyone needs to give their teenager some room. But when your child does not return phone calls, emails and texts, it has nothing to do with “Oh, it’s just that age.” Instead it’s, “Oh, I’m your Dad and get back to me in a reasonable amount of time.” Could you imagine your parent’s calling you at sixteen and not getting back to them…ever? If you suffer from Bipolar Illness, the constant analysis of this situation in your mind can overcome you with severe grief, which later turns to anger. You forever feel the need to straighten things out, and at the same time want to de-friend your own kid on Facebook, plus move away without telling them. If you are lucky you’ll remember you’re the adult in the situation and get ahold of yourself.

YOUR SPOUSE IS A LOUSE

Let’s not spend too much time on this. Those of us who are divorced did it because our spouses are louses. And when they’ve got primary custody you have no idea what kind of venom they are filling your child’s head with. If you are Bipolar, you can ponder infinitely until your face turns blue trying to make sense out of the situation. It’s our nature. I’m sure my ex is not doing me any favors. The words “call your father” have been lost behind “I leased you a horse, bought you all the best riding gear and am paying for your lessons and competitions!” I guess I can’t compete unless I were a talking horse like good ole Mr. Ed.

HOPE, DON”T MOPE

So, where do you go from here? You feel disrespected, unloved, unwanted and unsure of what you did wrong. You have done everything you can to try and find out what the issue is and repair the relationship. You hope your child has a conscious and misses you. You hope for that phone call or text from your child telling you they love you and what’s going on. But the bottom line you have no control over it. And unless you subscribe to the concept of “Magical Thinking,” the tendency is to mope. Somehow this is your fault. Could your ex be this divisive? I knew my ex was a control freak when I married her. Almost six years after our divorce I realized Miss Peaches and Cream had issues with telling the truth as well. Like I have discovered, without honesty in return, talking to your ex is like swallowing thumb tacks.

THE HARDEST THING TO DO IS NOTHING

I’m not an expert on child psychology and bitter ex-spouses. And being Bipolar my brain has this need to have everything concerning me right in the world. Disorder and anger directed at me is extremely hard with which to live. But if you are like me, you have to sit on your hands an avoid emails, phone calls and texts hoping to get even a “Hi Dad, miss you,” from your child. They know you feel terrible. This is their only way of exerting power over you. Get back in the driver seat by doing your parental duty by doing absolutely nothing. If they come around celebrate. If not, try and accept it. This may include therapy and medication. Losing a child who is not dead is a horrible thing to go through. How do you explain it to people without giving details you don’t even quite comprehend?

I TRIED AND I TRIED BUT COULD NOT LIGHT UP YOUR SKY

These are some of the last words I emailed my daughter. They are paraphrased from a rock group named “Cracker.” The song is called “I Can’t Forget You.” First they made me cry. Now they bring me comfort. I put away all her pictures and have stopped talking about her. I now have graduated to believing “it is what it is.” Probably the most profound phrase in the English language. It doesn’t bring closure. But for an estranged Bipolar Dad, it allows me to let things rest without completely shutting the door.

THE BIPOLAR PERSPECTIVE: YOU CAN LEAD A DEPRESSED PERSON TO WATER…   7 comments

Cracking the Window

Everybody has a different way of asking for help.  I have Bipolar II, with an extra serving of depression.  So when I am down so low I cannot take life anymore, I try to give it back with an overdose of my medications and as much Vodka as my body can absorb before I lose consciousness.  But no matter how many pills and how much Vodka I’ve ingested, I have still not been able to permanently put myself out of my misery.  There is no doubt at that moment in time I sincerely want to kill myself.  However, by not swallowing the entire contents of my medicine cabinet straight off, which for sure would bring about my demise, I leave the window open a crack with a parting call to my psychologist triggering an onslaught of help.  Could it be that I’d rather wake up feeling sick to my stomach six hours later than remaining unconscious feeling nothing six feet under?

Calling All Cars

The other day I was on Facebook and noticed a message from an old acquaintance.  He actually sent it out as a general notice to all his friends.  He explained he was feeling intense anxiety, depression and having trouble functioning.  He had an appointment with a doctor, but was extremely afraid of having to take medication.  I thought it was somewhat strange he was “calling all cars” about his mental condition. Most people are very private about it.  I was so intensely secretive I wrote a book about my experiences (BUZZKILL) using my real name.  My friend was obviously a mental illness novice.  He had not yet learned how to make the dramatic cry for help by at least threatening to jump from something.

Don’t Buy Generics

The last time I checked my friend had forty-one responses from some very well-meaning people.  But when you boiled it down they all had the same advice; “Hang in there.  Things will get better over time.  I’ll pray for you.”  Irrespective of the stupid simplicity of their remarks, it was amazing they all basically offered the same generic response.  And, not one person mentioned psychiatric help and medication, which my friend stated he was especially nervous about.  It reminded me of someone telling a little kid they are going to the circus, when they are really going to get a rabies shot.  And the “I’ll pray for you?”  Why not just say, “I’ll waste some time talking to myself about you instead of talking to you.”  Here was a true cry for help and in return came the off the shelf generic “You’ll be O.K.”  What these people don’t realize is that depression is life threatening, not to be thwarted with a pep talk like before the big homecoming football game.

Go With a Name Brand

Being depressed and despondent is about as real as it gets.  So I decided to “keep it real” and reach out with some useful “Name Brand Advice” via email.  After all, I suffered from depression and anxiety most of my life. Who better to advise him than an individual who will actually address his concerns.  So, I told my friend I have Bipolar Illness, which he may or may not have.  But I know well the anxiety and severe depression that goes with it.  I urged him to find a doctor who listens to him and what he could expect from medication, if in fact recommended.  Also, I suggested he read my book because it specifically addresses his concerns. Moreover, I asked him to purchase five copies and bill it through his insurance.  Lastly, I offered to meet with him anytime he needed to talk.   He thanked me.  Why not?  I’m a name brand lunatic.

Diarrhea of the Email

Then I let loose a torrent of emails also to help my friend.  I talked about medication side effects, finding the right doctor and coming with me to my support group for those who suffer from depression, anxiety and or Bipolar Illness.  Each time he thanked me, but never took me up on an offer.  Was I getting too involved?  Did he not know me well enough to open up?  Was I scaring him?  Was he afraid of turning out like me?  Did he want me to shut the fuck up with my “diarrhea of the email” advice?  My mother used to beat a subject to death so badly that if it was health related, it would cure itself by the intermission.  Was I becoming my mother?  I checked my head for electrodes.

Walk Away Renee

I finally decided enough was enough with the emails and to leave my friend alone.  Walk away Renee.  He knows what I have to offer and if he needs me I’m sure he’ll get in contact.  Sometimes when we are Bipolar and find someone who is in similar pain, although undiagnosed, we will do anything to bring assistance.  We identify with their struggle.  But at a certain point that individual has to reciprocate by reaching out.  You cannot force help down a person’s throat.  All you can do is throw them a life-preserver and see if they take it.  If not, let them find their own way.  I hear a good chiropractor can cure just about anything. Maybe my friend isn’t ready to come to terms with the possibility of needing psychiatric help?  I know when I took my first handful of psychotropic medication (in the prescribed amount), I felt the stigma of being a mental patient as if I was punched in the gut.  I was actually disappointed in myself for being so feeble!

Billboards and Bus-Backs

I was beginning to feel like a social marketer for the American Psychiatric Association.   Or, a Bipolar Recruiting Agent scouting out depressed people for a Bipolar diagnosis. Nonetheless, I have to be satisfied with having done my very best to help, and leave it at that.  Offering too much help can be just as bad as doing none at all.  Maybe I should cancel the billboards and bus-backs with my friend’s name on them, urging him to go to the emergency room if his depression gets worse.

You Can Lead a Depressed Person to Water…

Just like I have always subconsciously cracked the window during a suicide attempt, I realized my friend is doing the same with his mass email.  He made his cry for help.  Although not suicidal, he left an opening for someone to rescue him.  However, I can’t fit through it.  Maybe I represent too much reality?  Whatever the issue, I hope someone can breach the barrier.  And I have to be satisfied that I tried to offer assistance.  It’s really up to him to accept it.  As they say, you can lead a depressed person water, but you can’t make them see a shrink.

The Bipolar Perspective: Can You Afford to be Bipolar?   1 comment

FINANCING YOUR MEDS

When I heard the final tally I got kind of light headed and grabbed a walker from an old man to steady myself. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

I had walked into Walgreen’s Pharmacy a month ago and ordered refills for the cocktail of medications I take for Bipolar II. Topamax and Seroquel alone ripped into me for one-thousand dollars EACH for a monthly supply. I suddenly realized I was priced out of the Bipolar Market and had to find a disease with more reasonably priced medications. Or, find a bank that will finance my pills at a decent interest rate.

NO DOGS OR PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS ALLOWED

I left my job on May first in search of greener pastures, or ones that at least weren’t littered with as much dog shit. With it I lost my health insurance. Then I accepted a job as a private contractor, which meant I’d have to get my own insurance. And with mention of a pre-existing illness, insurance companies squeal and run away like little girls to hide behind the golf-bags of their lobbyists in Washington.

As a matter of fact, if you do get coverage, you get treated to a deductible in the thousands, and they do not cover prescriptions or any doctor’s care for one year if related to your pre-existing condition. It’s like buying auto insurance that doesn’t cover body work on your car for the first year if it has a pre-existing dent. Yet you pay through the hairy nostrils for it.

GO ONLINE AND HAVE IT RINGING OFF THE HOOK

Really want to get taken to the cleaners for carelessly being born Bipolar? Request information about insurance coverage online. Your phone won’t stop ringing for forty-eight hours straight with pitch-men and women trying to sell you coverage from companies of which you’ve never heard.

Can you imagine presenting a “Three Stooges Insurance” card to your dermatologist? The doctor has the melanoma half hanging off your rear-end in a bloody fleshy mess, and the receptionist suddenly yells in “Doctor, he’s got “Stooge Coverage!” Suddenly you are handed the scalpel, a mirror and instructions for how to finish up the rest of the surgery on your own. “Moe, Larry and Curly’s” policy only covers the first slice.

ALL ABOARD!

I finally decided to go with a company who offered a good prescription discount card, although it was not part of or administered by “their” plan. They were very careful to make this crystal clear. Everything else was even more ambiguous. In fact, nothing appeared part of the coverage except major medical and dental. And there were so many different providers mixed up in this policy I didn’t know who I was actually being insured by. It actually felt like more of a gang rape.

And the only thing the prescription discount card was good for is picking food out of your teeth. It had a million codes and membership numbers on it. And when the pharmacist called to get my discounts, I was not even in the system. And they had no idea who to call to get me in. And my new “un-sure company” wanted nothing to do with this “outside” prescription plan.

Funny thing is my “agent,” who is probably not that smart if she is working for these-second-story-men, called to let me know my ID cards were in the mail. I told her I had ten days to rescind and I wanted to do so. She said she’d call me back and then vanished like “Casper the Un-Friendly Insurance Ghost.”

SWITCHING TO A MORE AFFORDABLE DISEASE

So in the mean-time, I have cut back on some medications and eliminated others. Now I feel depressed, which is making it hard to concentrate on my new job. And I can only afford to buy a few pills at a time, as I can’t pony up thousands of dollars at once each month.

I have finally come to terms with the fact that I can not afford to be Bipolar anymore and will have to stop. I’ll just have to cease taking my medications and deal with the self-destructive mania and severe depression like a man, if the intense withdraw symptoms don’t kill me first. I’ll simply tell myself to “snap out of it.” And maybe the hopelessness and obsessive compulsive disorder will go away, kind of like a bad cold.

Actually, I heard the medications for Shingles are pretty reasonably priced. Maybe I’ll switch diagnosis. A little physical pain might be nice for a change.

It’s hard to believe every single insurance company and pharmaceutical manufacturer can be so cold-blooded and gaping-mouth-profit-hungry that they are leaving people who truly need their medications to survive unable to afford them. And now the only thing to do is find a way to survive until Obamacare in January 2014 takes affect.

AFFORDABLE AND PORTABLE

I like Obamacare. The president is giving the big insurance and drug companies a major kick in the balls for being greedy and cold-hearted. And, he’ll make it possible for people to get insurance without being penalized for having a pre-existing illness. Did I stress this will be affordable insurance as well?

It’s also portable insurance, which means if you change jobs your insurance goes with you. You’re not out on your own trying to cobble something together with Scotch tape and bailing wire until you can find a new job with full coverage.

PRICED OUT OF YOUR OWN ILLNESS

You’re Bipolar. A treatment is out there. But you can’t have it because it costs too much. We are not talking about a heart transplant. We are talking about getting pills from the fucking drugstore.

Moreover, many of these uninsured people with pre-existing conditions like Bipolar Illness requiring expensive medications are not all poor or destitute by any means. Bipolar professionals, teachers, craftspeople, etc. making good money still can’t manage to lay out thousands of dollars a month for medications. Being priced out of your illness can happen to anyone.

BE VIGILANT

So I leave you with this.. If you are Bipolar trying to get health insurance and are caught up in the pre-existing condition quagmire of insurance company irresponsibility, call your doctor and tell them the situation. He or she might have samples. Also, some local municipalities have programs to help you afford your medications or get them at no-charge. Public hospitals may have similar accommodations. And, I’ve heard there are several pharmaceutical manufacturer web sites that help people in these situations, although I don’t know enough about them to make a recommendation.

DOGS FLYING PLANES

Health insurance providers know nothing about medicine, yet they take control of your treatment, or lack there-of. It’s like letting a dog fly an airplane full of passengers. The only thing they understand is getting fed, so you know you’re in trouble no matter where you’re seated. Consequently, if you are planning on being Bipolar, you might want to wait until after you are insured.

The Bipolar Perspective: Floating Down The Nile in Denial   2 comments

THE 530 GANG

There was a time in my life when I could walk into a car dealership to look at a car I didn’t even need and allow the salesman to run my credit.   The middle-aged pot-bellied red in face sales-manager would then come off his dealmaking perch and introduce himself to me in person.

“Mr. Goodman.  We rarely see credit this good.  You can buy any car on the lot.  Just let us know which one you want and I’ll personally give you a great deal.”  Then I’d get to shake his hand sweaty from greed.

Now if I were to walk into that same dealership the sales-manager wouldn’t even look up from his paperwork to acknowledge my presence.  This is because the salesman who greeted me flashed him “the 530 gang sign” after he ran my credit.   530 is my new subterranean credit score.  I still could have any car on the lot… I just had to pay cash.   I was now in “The 530 Gang,” whether I liked it or not.   We were real low-riders in every sense of the word.

How did I go from the “good credit poster child” to the example of “this is what can happen to you with bad financial planning” in the Charles Schwab Introduction to Investing pamphlet?  Denial.

TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

Bipolar Disorder affects many facets of a person’s behavior.   Aside from the depression and the mania, it could also include Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Rapid Cycling, Dissociative Disorder and even Schizophrenia.   Often the afflicted suffer from two diagnoses simultaneously.  For instance, Mania and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.   Mania often occurs to satisfy some sort of compulsion.  I was monomaniacal about purchasing new cars because my OCD would not let me run up more than twenty-thousand miles on my current one.   I was convinced the car would become junk at that point and needed to rid myself of it before I get stuck with a pile of scrap metal.

THE NILE IN DENIAL

Denial is a manifestation of Bipolar Disorder.   However, not a separate diagnosis.   When money started getting tight I started prioritizing what and what not to pay.  And parking and speeding tickets took a backseat to car payments and insurance.   But eventually they started piling up.   When I didn’t hear anything for several months on a speeding ticket, I’d convince myself the highway patrolman who pulled me over thought I was a good guy and probably tore it up.  He just wanted to scare me into driving slower.   And all the parking tickets?   I changed cars every six to nine months.   The parking authority won’t even know what car to boot.    I had it all figured out.

Unfortunately, ignorance is bliss and I was haplessly floating down The River Nile in utter denial.   Whenever I tried to get a handle on things the task seemed overwhelming and I figured somehow it would work its way out.   Sooner or later a nice person from the Parking Authority or Traffic Court would call to help me straighten everything out.   In the back of my mind I knew this to be false.  There are no nice people at The Parking Authority or Traffic Court.

I’M THAT IDIOT

You can take all the anti-depressant and mood-stabilizing medication in the world for Bipolar Disorder, but it can’t force you to pay attention to your life.   And when I got pulled over for a burnt out tail light, I learned my driver’s license had been suspended for months due to numerous unpaid speeding and parking violations.   All at once I was without a driver’s license and stranded in the middle of nowhere unable to legally operate my vehicle.   The cop didn’t like me nor did he tear up that ticket after all.   And there are definitely no nice city workers ready to assist me in cleaning this mess up.   Nobody was to blame but myself.

And I had no idea where to start in order to untangle this spiderweb of speeding infractions and failures to appear.   I was the loser you see the judge reprimanding in traffic court for having so many unpaid tickets.   You wonder what kind of idiot could let his life get so out of control?   Well pleased to meet you.   I’m that idiot.

THE BIG DIG

I had two directions I could dig.   Up or down.  Digging down meant my I was going to let the State of California bury me.   No more license, no car and no dignity.  Or, dig up and out of this self-created seemingly constantly quadrupling quagmire of fines.  I chose to dig skyward.  Unfortunately, digging uphill is always harder.

I literally forced myself to get all my infractions together, sort out what I owed to which country, paid what I had to pay immediately and set up payment plans for the rest.   It took weeks of running back and forth between city offices, talking to half-asleep city workers more interested in their next break than giving you a break and waiting in monstrous lines that often extended outside the building.

THE AFTERMATH

When all is said and done, if you do the math, after I paid all my fines procrastinating cost me at least an extra five-thousand dollars in late fees.   And the time it took me to straighten things out cost me unfathomable hours of valuable work and personal time.   But I also learned something valuable about my Bipolar Disorder which applies to others like me.

People with Bipolar Disorder tend to become overwhelmed more easily because we are dealing with managing our disease, which is a full-time job in itself.   And if we have a secondary diagnosis, like OCD, it adds another layer of dysfunctionality to our lives.   It’s easy to let things go with so much happening in our heads.   You put bills, fines, banking information and ominous looking letters aside unopened to handle at a later date when you feel better equipped to deal.

IT’S RAINING MONKEYS

But we never feel more equipped.  And the bills and fines will not go away.   So we must train our Bipolar minds to deal with things immediately instead of procrastinating.    You will always feel like it’s raining monkeys.   But the objective is to get them off your back one at a time before they start piling up and dragging you down.  Bipolar Disorder distorts reality.  The secret is not to give it a helping hand.

Mental Illness Mother Goose   Leave a comment

It was around 1pm this past Saturday night.  All the bars were starting to close on Haight Street in San Francisco.  After drinking probably more beer than I should, I had to pee very badly.  Recently when the urge hits me, I have to go with the urgency of a Hungarian plow mule.  I was having a miserable time with the woman I was curating, partially because she was wearing a ridiculous disguise dressed as a man and also was combative about everything I said.  So when we got outside I told her I was going to have a problem if I didn’t pee, cut across the street to a dark vestibule and discretely took care of business.  When I turned back around she was gone.  I felt relieved in more ways than one. And, I inadvertently joined the ranks of millions who urinated in the doorways and alleys of the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco since the mid 1960’s.

Who was this girl and why was I out with her?  She had a made up name and lived in a world with one toe in reality and the rest in a world of constant conflict.  I met her at a party my roommate threw in a rare instance without her disguise.   But I quickly learned about the man trying to break into her apartment wanting to murder her, the detective telling her to be vigilant and paranoid, the barricading of herself for weeks at a time inside her apartment,  not being able to maintain friendships, her confrontational nature and distrust of everyone.  On top of it all she was a self-proclaimed clairvoyant and you could not ask her questions about herself without provoking her wrath.  Not even what she does or doesn’t do for a living.

But she read my book Buzzkill and I know some of my Bipolar trials and tribulations touched her in a “better him than me” kind of way.   And she took joy in speaking with me about my hospitalizations and medications as it made her feel like she escaped getting caught in a bear trap and was free to slink around Nottingham Woods.  Maybe occasionally even pop up to the highway and nibble on some fresh road kill.

It is very clear she has a serious disorder that affects her perception of reality making her extremely combative and afraid.  And I was informed by others that she constantly spoke of my issues with Bipolar illness taken from my book ad-infinitum trying to rally support for her theory that I was a danger to society.   Up until then I didn’t realize my blogs were that bad.

So why in the world did I go out with her?  Because she asked me to.  And I had this ridiculous notion maybe I could convince her to trust me and get her some help.  Underneath the baseball hat, sunglasses at night and ill fitting mens clothing was hidden a very attractive smart woman.   I decided not to take her behavior personally and get her to at least entertain the idea I could be of assistance.  Maybe get her to a doctor for an evaluation.  Visit her in the hospital, because for sure she would be admitted. Probably by ambulance with flashing lights and a police escort while strapped to a gurney.

However the evening was a bust.  Everything I said caused nonsensical argumentative responses.  It became very evident she was experiencing a different reality than  I.  And, that I couldn’t just simply reason with her, nor could she comprehend reality, was bewildering.  The sad part is she was convinced of being the only sane person in the room. However I started to feel anger from the cumulative effect of all the abuse I had taken that evening.  I was reprimanded for complimenting her on her jewelry, her disguise, commenting on the bad service at a wine bar and on and on.

Bipolar people do not live in a separate reality from the rest of the world. Sometimes we have trouble dealing with the existing reality, but it’s the same as everyone else’s.  Our lives are spent constantly striving to negotiate it as best we can.  And because we have had our deep depressions, unbearable anxieties, visits to the psyche ward and times of great despair, we try and “mother goose” others we see in trouble.  But when the mind has an altered reality, a few kind words and some insight can’t make it right.   It’s like the sun.  You can protect yourself with sunscreen or sitting under an umbrella, but you can’t make it stop burning.

Sadly, as of last night, this woman was still texting me about the night before, amending it with details I’m sure she thinks are accurate.  And I had to realize I can not help and told her to go back into Nottingham Woods because if she continued to harass me I’d call the big bear with the straight jacket and 51/50 paperwork.

I can not fix this one.   Was it my mania making me think I could?  Is it even my responsibility?  If someone is shooting at you do you walk into the line of fire to tell them to stop, or do you take refuge somewhere safe until they run out of bullets?  This woman never even stops to reload.

In some morbid way it was interesting getting to know an individual crazier than myself.   It’s like being a rubbernecker passing a really bad car accident.  You know it’s wrong to look, but you just can’t help yourself.  And then when you see the bloody carnage, you beat yourself up because you can’t get the image out of your head.

Is It Your Bipolar Disease or Mine?   Leave a comment

This is going to be a personal blog.  That’s why I am putting it online.  So nobody can read it.  Actually, it’s a blog about something in my life I’ve had to come to terms with, but I think it has relevance to others who have a story to tell about their experiences with Bipolar Disease.

Earlier this year I published my first book entitled Buzzkill.  It’s the story of my very disorderly struggle with Bipolar Disorder.  I tried to write it a year or two earlier and it just wasn’t working.  There was no flow nor was it the least bit compelling.  Kind of like a Daniel Steele novel.  And then one day it hit me;  I wasn’t being true to myself or potential readers.  To really tell the tale, I had to rip open my entire life with a scalpel, gut it and lay the steaming innards out on a stainless steel coroner’s table in their full rancid glory for all to read.   And when I began writing and started feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable with my prose, I knew I had begun writing the book I intended. Then the words began to flow like hot molten lava from a big dormant volcano that waited 45 years to blow its load.

Buzzkill is about my lifelong struggle with depression, mania, hypomania, suicidal attempts, hospitalizations, medications and all of the situations that arose from my erratic behavior.  Among other things, I talk about the sexual side effects from anti-depressants leaving me with absolutely no sensation in my genitals, the humiliation of being in a locked mental ward, the shrinks who almost killed me and the times I tried to kill myself.  I described wild manic buying sprees and the financial disasters that ensued along with mismatched lovers and relationships gone terribly awry.  The bottom line is that no matter how humiliating, I made it real for my readers.  I wanted to reach inside them, grab hold of their most traumatic embarrassing Bipolar experiences and say, “It’s all right.  Me too friend.”

Here in lies the problem; Nobody lives in a vacuum.  Other people were part of my life experience.  Parents, friends, doctors… They all played a role in my life.  Some of them had their own issues and were antagonists.  Some were protagonists.  And, certain characters were neither good or bad, just too damn interesting to leave out.  However you could not understand my life without discussing their lives.  Many of these people will not appreciate my portrayal of them, regardless of its truthfulness.   They will develop tunnel vision and see Buzzkill as a book all about them.  They will gloss right over the parts where I’m sitting in an emergency room being forced to drink charcoal and throwing it up all over myself.  Or, getting physically thrown out of a classroom in third grade as I was unable to control my emotional outbursts.  All that matters is I wrote “they had a nagging voice like a goat.”

No matter how big of an earthquake ensues, I told my story as it happened to me.  I make no apologies.  If I censored myself Buzzkill wouldn’t be the book I intended and certainly not worth reading.  Nobody wants to read another 300 pages of watered down drivel about coping with Bipolar Illness written by some Phd. with a pipe stuck up his ass.

The lesson learned is that we all have to be true to ourselves as Bipolar individuals.  It’s our duty to tell our stories so we can help others like us feel more comfortable with their challenges.  We can not hold back because we are afraid of the truth starting an uncontrollable wildfire.  We do not start the fires, it’s the people with blinders on who don’t want to see the truth that slash and burn.  And if you are not up to telling your story, that’s ok too.  Not everyone is required to walk on the hot coals.  Because I don’t care what anyone says, no matter how righteous of a person you are, they still burn the shit out of your feet.